Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs Estate Sale services?
Any person who finds themselves needing to sell or liquidate inherited personal property, or anyone who is in the position of having to substantially downsize their own personal property would benefit from an estate sale. This can be due to a death, a loved one who is moving into an assisted living arrangement, the need to clear the contents of a home to make it ready for the real estate market, or even just a change in lifestyle. If you have a large quantity of sellable items and you are feeling totally overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, an estate sale is usually your best choice.
How much do you charge to come over, take a look at what I have for sale, and discuss my options with me?
Why should I bother with an Estate Sale instead of just calling in an Auction House?
Auction companies typically agree to take only 5% or less of the contents of the average home. Local auction houses are looking for high-end art, antiques, and vintage collectibles that will sell for at least $300 per item and they will not be interested in your contemporary furniture and normal household items. Our company will sell your home’s contents on-site, so you have no moving fees, insurance fees, or photography fees – all charged back to you by auction houses – and, you will always get the proceeds from the sale much faster, usually within 3 days after the sale.
Wouldn’t I come out ahead by just handling this whole thing myself?
Some things are better left to experienced professionals, and an Estate Sale is one of those things. When a family member passes away or you move into a new home, there are many, many decisions to make and situations to resolve. The inside of the home/garage is one of the main things that tend to bog people down. The idea of having to completely clean out a loved one’s home and then dispose of decades of belongings paralyzes many people. Literally thousands of items reside in a typical American home: pictures, papers, clothes, dishes, furniture, keepsakes, linens, garage stuff – the list goes on and on. Each item requires a decision and an action. Each item can and will trigger memories – some good, and perhaps…..some not so good. This amounts to a tremendous outlay of precious time, expense, and emotional energy on your part.
Some families frantically attempt to empty the house on their own by selling or giving away a lot of items, leaving only low end yard sale material. At that point, it is too late for an estate sale professional to mount a successful sale or maximize profits for the family because everything “good” is gone.
Hiring our professional team will free you from this task and make your transition much easier. We do this full-time and have the strong advantage of not being emotionally attached to anything in your home. We know how to generate the most revenue from the sale and attract the serious buyers. Our team will do all the hard work and use our contacts and resources to make sure your sale is a rousing success.
My parent’s home contains mostly everyday items – no fine art or antiques. Is an estate sale still an option for me, or should I just haul it all to Good Will?
One of the biggest misconceptions about estate sales is that you have to have a lot of antiques or collectibles for the sale to be worthwhile. That’s just not true. You would be amazed at how well regular “stuff” sells at estate sales. In this economy, there are a lot of people looking for usable, everyday items. Your everyday items may be worth more than you think. We can let you know very quickly if you have enough for a successful sale.
Some estate companies take any job offered. We don’t do that. We turn down as many sales as we accept. Why? Because we care about you and your best interests. After viewing the contents of the estate, we’ll tell you upfront if we think having an estate sale is worthwhile or not. If we feel that your better option is a full house clean out or a basic garage sale, we will be frank and say so.
How do I decide what to keep? We’re having a really hard time “letting go.”
Many of our clients have just inherited a house full of stuff. They are feeling overwhelmed and guilty about needing or wanting to get rid of most of it. These feelings are normal. Your loved one would not have expected you to keep it all.
So – what to keep? Think portable & personal……a few pieces of special jewelry, perhaps a handmade quilt, a treasured painting, a single figurine or paperweight. You are not disrespecting your loved ones when you send their treasures on to good homes and nice people who will appreciate and value them. It is easy to give in to grief and emotion and hang on to many items that you really don’t want or need. Remember - your loved ones live on in your heart and in your memories – not in those big boxes of stuff that will take up a lot of space in your garage or closets…or, God forbid, a storage unit that will cost you money month after month.
What should I do to get ready for the sale?
Leave everything in the house where it sits – don’t bag or box up anything. Do not throw anything away or donate anything until we have looked at it. You would be amazed at what some clients have donated to charity, thrown in a dumpster, or given away to the neighbors or “Mama’s caregiver” thinking it had little or no value. Let us decide what’s sellable. That’s part of what you are paying us for – we know how to separate worthless items and “trash” from the sellable treasures.
Rule of Thumb - if you want the best possible financial return, then you have to leave some of the better items, i.e. antiques, fine jewelry, furs, sterling silver/gold, vintage collectibles, and good art. Those are the types of items that will attract eager, serious buyers who are willing to pay for nice things.
Silent Partners will not conduct sales that contain only low-end, garage sale items. We would, however, be happy to completely clean out your home for a fee. Feel free to discuss that option with us.
How do you determine your commission? Is it a flat rate?
You pay nothing up front. We work strictly on a commission basis, We cover all expenses – advertising, permits, staffing/labor, credit card fees, supplies – it all comes out of our commission. There are NO hidden costs to the client.
We determine our commission at the initial consultation, based on the volume, condition, and value of the items to be sold. Every situation is different, which is why we must view the property and get an idea of the scope of the job before we can quote you a reasonable commission.
Bottom line – when it comes to estate sales, like anything else, you get the service you are willing to pay for. Frankly, if you are just commission shopping, we will probably not be the cheapest. But we promise you that we will give you a level of service and professionalism that is second to none. Our purpose is to provide an important service that helps the living and honors the dead. When you choose us, you will get a sale you or your loved one will be proud of, conducted by experienced professionals with a strong following who know how to maximize your profits.
What happens to the items that are left over after the sale?
Each situation is different. A “clear-out” is a totally different service than an estate sale. Frequently, clients hire us to do both. Family members may want to go through what remains and then decide what to throw away, keep, or donate to charity, and they handle the entire clear out process themselves. However, if you want us to arrange for disposal of all remaining items and leave the house totally empty and broom clean we will gladly perform that service for an additional fee. This will be negotiated at the initial consultation if you feel you need or want that service.
What about insurance? Are you covered?
ABSOLUTELY! Silent Partners is a legitimate business that is fully insured. We carry a $1,000,000 liability policy specifically tailored to estate sale businesses, and we are more than happy to furnish you with a copy of our Certificate of Insurance before we begin the job, upon request.
Anything else I should consider?
Remember, the estate sale company you choose will be going through all of your loved one’s possessions. By the end of the staging process, they usually know a great deal about your family. Ask yourself, does this person I am about to hire seem mature enough to deal with any situation that may arise? Do they have enough common sense to use discretion and practice confidentiality?
Unfortunately, like every other profession, there are some shady operators in this business. Some folks use estate liquidation as a ruse to get in your home and buy your belongings directly at a steep discount. Watch out if they offer to take your best items off-premises to sell on “consignment.” Beware of fast-talkers who make exaggerated claims, i.e. “I can get you $500 for that vase…..$3,000 for that bookcase……we can take your stuff to our warehouse and sell it for LOTS of money on Ebay…..” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any true estate professional will try to get the most money possible for everything (it’s in their best interest to do so), but take all outlandish claims, fast talk, and high pressure with a grain of salt. Reputable companies prefer to under promise, and over deliver.
Finally – call and CHECK those references. Do an internet search and look for past complaints. Check them out on the Better Business Bureau site. If they claim to be insured or accredited, ask them to prove it. Ask them if they or any member of their staff has a criminal record, or if their company has ever been SUED by an unhappy client. You are contracting for an important, valuable service, and you only have one chance to get it right – make sure the company you select is professional, honest, and reputable.
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